The Trump campaign is calling on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to explain her decision to appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" with "8645" bubble digits strategically placed behind her on a table. According to Trump surrogates, the display was a dog-whistle to radicals in an effort to cause the president great harm.
Adding to the scandal, the deputy digital and creative director for the Democrat governor, Tori Saylor, retweeted an account praising Whitmer for the subconscious messaging.
Many have suggested that "86" rarely has the connotation of "killing," and is far more frequently a reference used by restaurant workers wanting to kick someone out, remove them, or deny them service. Nevertheless, Whitmer's decision escalated the continuing feud between her and the president.
Last Saturday, Trump held a rally in Michigan where supporters chanted, "Lock her up," referring to Whitmer. The governor used that scene to attack Trump for "inciting" lawless conduct.
"It's incredibly disturbing that the President of the United States —10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial, and execute me," Whitmer began, "10 days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring, incentivizing, and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism. It is wrong. It has got to end — not just for me and my family but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans."
Trump's deputy national press secretary for his campaign, Courtney Parella, pointed to that very statement in response to her "8645" messaging on national television.
"By Gretchen Whitmer's own standard, displaying something encouraging people to ‘86' the President is employing dangerous rhetoric," Parella said.